China National Silk Museum
Address : Zhejiang Province, Hangzhou City, Yuhuang Shan Road #73-1
Website : www. Chinasilkmuseum.com
The China National Silk Museum is in Hangzhou, on a hill called Jade-Emperor Mountain that lies at the southern end of the lake. Including the grounds, the Museum covers an area of 73 mu (a Chinese unit of area that equals 0. 1647 acres,) and the building space covers 8, 000 square meters. The complex of buildings is somewhat fan-shaped, or curved like a bow. A statue of the legendary goddess of silkworms, Lei Zu, stands in front. The building holds 3, 000 square meters of exhibition space. In 2003, a thorough renovation of the exhibitions resulted in a new way of presenting the material. The main hall narrates the story of silk in China. This includes the early sources and development of silk production, the main kinds of silk fabric, a bit about the Silk Road, and the role that silk played in ancient life and society. The "dyeing hall' and the "contemporary accomplishments hall” display the development of the loom in China as well as the silk industry after New China was founded, and accomplishments as a result of research and development and foreign trade.
The first thing that greets the visitor in the entry hall to the museum is a large model of a Song-dynasty loom. Around its base is reproduced a Song dynasty painting (done for the emperor Song Gaozong) that depicts mulberry raising and silk weaving. The original of this painting is more than five meters long and was done by a court artist for the emperor. Through linked-painting technique, it systematically portrays the entire process of making silk, from planting mulberries and raising silkworms to unraveling the silk from cocoons and weaving cloth.
The Silk Fabrics Hall exhibits a large number of ancient silk artifacts, as well as models and photographs. Articles from the Neolithic period include certain items from more than 4, 700 years ago, and even a dyed piece of silk woven fabric from more than 5, 600 years ago.
Woven silk pieces excavated from the Jiangling Mashan Chu Tomb in Hubei Province show the high level of weaving technology during the Warring States period.
By the Han period, the development of Chinese silk weaving had reached its first peak. The fabric excavated from the #1 Tomb at Mawangdui that is exhibited here is extraordinary. It lay underground for more than 2, 000 years and yet is still as lustrous and beautiful as when it was buried.
During the Tang dynasty, silk weaving entered a period of innovation due to extensive east-west cultural exchange. The pieces excavated from a group of tombs at Astana in Turpan, Xinjiang, exhibit the artistic style of those times. Printing-on-silk technology was highly developed during the Tang period. All of the printing technology methods that we have today were already in existence at the time, and some of these are exhibited here.
Woven silk fabrics in the Song and Yuan dynasties include numerous weaving techniques that are both complex and very beautiful. Weaving with gold came to be one of the more refined techniques and some pieces are displayed that were excavated from a site in Inner Mongolia. Silk brocades were used in the Song and Yuan periods but were most vibrant in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Exhibited here are a number of brocade items that were worn by emperors, empresses, and senior officials.
The Silkworms and Mulberry Hall exhibits the entire process of cultivating silkworms. On display are materials about some live mulberry trees in China that are over one thousand years old. The life cycle of a silkworm is shown, and specimens from around the country are on display. One can watch the birth and growth of the little worm, the way it spits out the silk and creates its own cocoon and the way that cocoon is then unwound to create silk threads. The Silk Production Hall gives the history of the tools of the trade. The Weaving Hall displays all kinds of traditional looms and allows visitors to actually sit at a loom and try for themselves. The Dying Hall has specimens of many kinds of plants and minerals that were used in traditional dyes. Nearby is also a small botanical garden that raises some of the plants used for these dyes. In addition to displaying the processes of dying, printing and embroidery, demonstrations are given by masters on the spot of the various techniques.
China National Silk Museum